I was so obsessed my dad bought documentaries on Michael Jackson just for me (and on Madonna and ABBA for himself... weird). Later on, in that heaven-sent month when NTA showed every episode of "The Jacksons: An American Dream", which is still my faaavourite mini-series of all time, my very busy father would wait up till midnight, or whatever God-forsaken hour they were showing it, just to press play on the video recorder. He didn't know what all the fuss was about. He never watched the episodes, he just did it so that his brat of a daughter would get to watch the enactment of a story she already knew inside out. I dunno why he didn't just agree to extend my bed-time by four hours so that I could go through all the trouble myself.
By age 8 I could recite hundreds of bits of trivia, not just about MJ the great, but about his family and his "friends" too. The quest to see just how many Motown-related facts I could stuff into my brain without exploding gave way to a true and genuine appreciation of Motown, its hits and its stars. From about 14, I bought compilation after compilation, watched the zillions of biographical mini-series (It turns out Gordy had a penchant for the cheesy but delightful productions), and last year, I even saw the "Motown Dancing in the Streets" musical... twice!
After that rather unecessary summary of my obsession with all things Motown, you won't be surprised I'm sure when I say that for the last month or so I had been DYING to see Dream Girls. I'd heard about the movie aaages ago on E! to be honest, but only developed an interest in it when I learned it was about the Supremes. You see, I'd switched off instantly when Ryan Seacrest or whoever it was, announced that Dream Girls would be starring our dear Miss Knowles. Love her, I do - You could even say I "Lust" her (I know I'm using it the wrong way okay?) because if I was a same-sexer I most definitely would do her. But then, I neither love nor "lust" her movies. To put it simply (and I hate to be so boring and state the obvious)... they suck!
Dream Girls doesn't hit British cinemas till Friday - I know... how slooow are we? But, ever the resourceful Sherlock, Bitchy kept a close eye on the cinemas within her vicinity and jumped and danced for joy on Saturday afternoon when she discovered the movie would be opening on Sunday, and not on Friday as advertised.
Getting to the point is taking forever, so I'm just going to get there.
I Loooooooooooooovvvvvvveeeed IT!
It was just.... phenomenal... In every way - The MUSIC, the colours, the clothes, the story-line, the MUSIC, the choreography, the sheer fluffy-bitchyness of the entire thing, the depth, characters, the personalities... the everything!
First, our friend Miss Knowles, looked amazing! Although 6 or 7 shades lighter in complexion that Miss Ross, and in possession of a voice (again..) 6 or 7 times richer, she pulled it off! It was incredible! When she danced, I saw Diana, and whenever she so much as moved, I saw her again! See the clip below of my absolute favourite bit in the movie, for an illustration of this Diana-esque behaviour! She also took a leaf or two out of Diana's book, and didn't once attempt to sing like the Diva Supreme, which would have been a complete disaster if she had - Diana Ross played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues decades ago and withstood all pressure to sing the Billie way, instead doing a personal imitation that earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.
She did annoy me a little I confess, but only when she talked. She wasn't Diana when she talked... she was back to being irritating, boring, over-dramatic Bee. But she didn't talk often thankfully, so in all, it was grrreat! Her performance clearly wasn't worth the $15 million (or whatever ridiculous sum Yodi said) Daddy Matthew weasled for her, because she so blatantly wasn't the intended star of the whole show!
Blew me away from the minute she walked on in a leopard print silk scarf and stomped onto the stage at the amateur contest. I had heard she was incredible, that she'd won the Golden Globe and been nominated for an Oscar, but I hadn't really given it that much thought. As Florence Ballard... Oops.. sorry... Effie White, she was just phenomenal - Am I being paranoid, or have I used that word twice already? The scene media critics raved about where she sang her heart and guts out alone onstage was so worth every bit of the hooha it received.
I couldn't believe how good she was. I spent the entire movie trying to work out where I'd seen her before, and why her face and voice were so familiar. I then felt like such a dumbo when I got home and onto Google to find out that she was the Jennifer Hudson I'd cheered for (and then gotten bored of) on American Idol 3. Its amazing how far she's come. I found out today that she beat over 200 people to the role, including Fantasia who'd beaten her in 2004 to the Idol title. I also found out, much to my relief, that she'd had to put on over 50 pounds for the role and hadn't, as I'd imagined, spent the last 2 years stuffing her face with chicken thighs and cupcakes just because she didn't make it to the A.I. final.
Right now, I'm listening to Eddie Murphy singing "I Meant You No Harm" which is probably the most beautiful song in the film. Of course, as you'll find out, he never finishes it, and even on the soundtrack I purchased on Sunday from Amazon (I love how speedy they are!) its unfinished too. Its so sad! A lot of the other songs he does in the movie didn't quite make it onto the soundtrack (the US version that is... I was too impatient to wait for the fuller UK version to come out in 2 weeks), and its a shame cuz he was so sooooo good. I was really surprised by him. I'm not a fan of his pregnant-girlfriend-dumping ass, and so had even forgotten about his disastrous attempts in the '80s and '90s to make it as a singer, although... that's probably a good thing because he really was a thousand times better than I'd been expecting (even without the prejudice from his crappy music videos tainting my vision).
After all this, it pains me to add that Jamie Foxx was in fact, the most disappointing thing in the entire film. His performance was several centigrades below lukewarm. It just wasn't good enough. His singing too, left much to be desired, which was such a shocker after the Unpredictable album. With hindsight I suppose it was the songs and production on Unpredictable, rather than the man doing the singing, that made it a success, but that still doesn't make it easier for me to swallow the Foxx's far from Foxxy performance as Berry Gordy... Oops! I mean... Curtis Taylor Jr.
I'll stop here before I give away the entire story in the process of bemoaning Jamie's terrible performance.
Ooh.. one more thing. I'm not for a second implying that Dream Girls or Hudson deserve Oscars, before anyone crucifies me! There were definitely a few parts of the movie that got on my nerves... and even though they were few and far between, they managed to do just a little damage to my overall enjoyment of the whole film. The problem, I think, stems from its being an adaptation of a musical. A couple of parts are just a tad theatrical, or cheesy, or downright random. Now, I easily forgave them, because I'm a lover of musicals, but I'm not sure Oscar and his friends will be able to. Come to think of it, perhaps I shouldn't pretend as though I always knew Dream Girls the motion picture was based on Dream Girls the Broadway production. After all, I'm the same person who turned to her little sister and said "Why the hell are they bursting into song every minute? This is so cheesy!" to which she replied, "Its a musical, you mumu!"